Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Wear and Tear

By Paula Bomer

Dear Angelina Jolie,

Hi, my name is Brenda Lynn Cartwright and I am 14 years old and I go to school on a special bus in Binghamton New York. I like school and I like my foster family. It is two weeks before Christmas and I wrote Santa but my foster mother told me I should write you too. My foster mothers name is Maggie and she is nice. But you are my favorite person in the world. I have seen the Lara Croft movies 11 times and I have the Lara Croft doll. But mostly I like to read about you in the magazines at the grocery store. Maggie lets me buy them because she is so nice. Some magazines I read so much that the magazines are falling apart. This can make me cry and then Maggie helps me keep the magazines together. She brings tape and a stapler. One copy of US she put a nice plastic cover on so that it won’t get what she calls wear and tear.

Sometimes I cut out pictures of you and hang them on the wall next to my bed. I want to tell you that I did something really great with all the pictures on my wall. Maggie helped me. Because I would touch them so much and then they would get wear and tear and then I would cry or scream and behave bad. Sometimes then Maggie would have to give me an extra medication. She doesn’t like to do that. I don’t like it either. So she helped me make a collage! It is the best! It is all these pictures of you Angelina! Lots of your face over and over again! In some of them you are with Brad Pitt. In some of them you are with your children. But it is mostly of you. And it has a coat on it that keeps it safe and makes it not fall apart! That is part of the collage! So when I touch your face over and over again it doesn’t get wear and tear.

I am writing to ask you for the most important thing that I want for Christmas. Will you adopt me Angelina Jolie? I read pretty well and I read that you are looking to adopt lots of children. Sometimes Maggie reads to me because she reads better than me. I ask her to read to me what the magazines say about you when I can’t read it all by myself. Some say you want 12 children. Can I be one of your children? Can I?

Please Angelina? I am very good at my manners and always say please and thank you. I want you to adopt me. It is what I want for Christmas so that is why I am writing to you and not just Santa. Maybe if you want 12 children you will have room for a child like me. I know I am bigger than your other children. I might not look cute and cuddly like they look in the magazines but I am cuddly even though I am big.

No one can love you more than I love you, Angelina. In my dreams and in my mind you love me like I love you. Maggie loves me and I love her but I love you more. When I ask Maggie would Angelina love me? Do you think Angelina would love me? She hugs me and says yes. She says everyone would love me. But I ask why my mother and father didn’t love me. She says they did love me but they didn’t know how to love me right. I don’t understand no matter how much she tries to explain. How do you love someone but not love them right?

Sometimes I like to believe Maggie. But once I got in a fight on the bus to school. I got in trouble. I was talking about you and how I think maybe you will adopt me since you want to adopt so many children and I love you so much. And a boy called me retarded and said no one would adopt me and that is why I am in foster care. I hit him a bunch. I was very angry and not thinking. That’s what happens to me when I get angry. I stop thinking. I had to go to the principal’s office and they called Maggie and she came and picked me up. I had a bloody lip and scratches but I didn’t care. Mostly I was sad by then. I get sad after I get angry a lot of the times. Maggie wasn’t angry with me but she wasn’t happy either. Sometimes she can be like that. Not angry or happy. Just still.

Maggie read to me an article about the latest boy you adopted. The magazine said the boy’s mother lived at the orphanage. Maggie started to cry. I said Maggie why are crying? She said why doesn’t she help the mother too? I said I don’t know Maggie! We hugged. I don’t like it when Maggie is sad. Then she said maybe it was because the mother isn’t cute and cuddly. She said some mothers need help to be good mothers. She said some mothers just need money. She said some mothers just need help and a chance in life. I don’t know what that means. But I hate it when Maggie is sad. She said my mother is getting help. But all I could think was is it true? Is it true Angelina? Did you not try to help the mother because she is not so little or cute? Then I worry you won’t adopt me. And I think about wear and tear. I think how wear and tear isn’t good on my pictures of you. And I think maybe you won’t love me because I have wear and tear. I am not a fresh new little child. I have dark skin like your daughter from Africa. I am a little fat. I wear glasses and have one lazy eye. I have wear and tear but I try hard to be good and clean my nails and hair and brush my teeth. I would be so good to you Angelina.

Our Christmas tree is up and it looks pretty. I helped hang the lights and the ornaments on it. I got frustrated once because it was hard work to get the ornaments on it. They would fall off. I started to behave bad but then Maggie let me have a time-out instead of making me take an extra medication. If I take an extra medication I fall asleep and everything is even harder to do. So I was glad I didn’t have to take one. I look at the Christmas tree and I think of you Angelina. I see the pretty lights and the star on the top and all the ornaments I hung up and I am so proud that I helped make this beautiful thing. And I want you to be proud of me too Angelina. My home here is nice. I am a happy girl. But I still want you to be my mother. Please write me back and tell me if I can be yours.

Brenda Lynn Cartwright


Paula Bomer's story collection BABY, will be published by Impetus Press next year. My fiction is forthcoming or has been published in Word Riot, Storyglossia, juked, Fiction, Nerve, The New York Tyrant, sub-lit and elsewhere.
Photo: Lara Croft as she appears in a promotional image from Tomb Raider: Anniversary, via

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